The Pope's "Christus vivit": a call to action for young people

April 11, 2019 — «Just as you try not to lose your connection to the internet, make sure that you stay connected to the Lord.» Using metaphors of “connectivity”, Pope Francis addressed young people last week, in all their plurality, through the apostolic exhortation Christus vivit. This document is a follow-up to the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops held last October, which reflected on the topic of «Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment.»

As an almost young person (I am more than 29 years old!) I read the content with attention. How can the Church, a two-thousand-year-old institution, still reach today's youth? Of the many topics covered, three especially appealed to me.

2019 WYD Canada group - Montreal

A world in crisis

First, the fact that the Pope recognizes the division between the Church and young people, who sometimes «do not ask the Church for anything because they do not see her as significant for their lives.» Their reasons, the Pope says, are understandable:

[...] sexual and financial scandals; a clergy ill-prepared to engage effectively with the sensitivities of the young; lack of care in homily preparation and the presentation of the word of God; the passive role assigned to the young within the Christian community; the Church’s difficulty in explaining her doctrine and ethical positions to contemporary society. 

Francis returns to these various themes, urging the Church to remain open, alive and to "let herself be challenged and stimulated by the sensitivity of young people," especially on these topics.

Young people are all different, they have different backgrounds, experiences and priorities. Some are more privileged than others. All you have to do is open a newspaper to notice this. Pope Francis highlights several problems experienced by many of them: war, violence, exclusion, discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation. He then hopes that all young people who suffer may "feel the closeness of a Christian community that can reflect Jesus' words [“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”] by its actions, its embrace and its concrete help». So to make this happen, he urges everyone to look at the suffering of others. This is something that can never be repeated enough, within the Church and beyond.

A particular issue has been making headlines recently: sexual abuse by members of the clergy. In this regard, the Synod emphasized «the firm commitment made to adopting rigorous preventative measures intended to avoid the recurrence [of these crimes].» But we must remember that this concerns only a minority of the clergy. The Pope asks young people to let themselves be inspired by the majority of the clergy, «who carry out their ministry with fidelity and generosity.»

Evil does not have the last word. 

by Pat Marrin / Francis, the comic strip

Called to live

The Pope affirms that, in order to get closer to young people, the Church must logically listen to them and remain open. «Young people can help keep her (the Church) young. They can stop her from becoming corrupt; they can keep her moving forward, prevent her from being proud and sectarian, help her to be poorer and to bear better witness, to take the side of the poor and the outcast, to fight for justice and humbly to let herself be challenged.» Staying close to their voice and enthusiasm creates the conditions for the Church to become a «place of dialogue and a witness to life-giving fraternity.»

This is why the Pope invites young people from all walks of life to participate in the life of the Church, and not only by virtue of a religious vocation.

When we discover that God is calling us to something, that this or that is what we were made for – whether it be nursing, carpentry, communication, engineering, teaching, art or any other kind of work – then we will be able to summon up our best capacities for sacrifice, generosity and dedication. 

Reflecting on our hyper-connected world, Francis invites us to leave our screens and to engage, each in our own way, more closely with the world. No need to seek perfection: «Don’t be parked cars, but dream freely and make good decisions. Take risks, even if it means making mistakes.» In his exhortation we find great confidence in young people who, the Pope says, can draw on the wisdom of their elders.

The Church needs your momentum, your intuitions, your faith. We need them! And when you arrive where we have not yet reached, have the patience to wait for us.

Loved by God

Finally, one last point to highlight, Francis reminds us that God wants us to be happy, loves us, and wishes us to enjoy the present moment. How? Among other things through friendship with others and with Christ. Jesus was in fact «just another young person of his town, who related normally to others » (!) who can understand what young people are going through. Christ holds a central place in the Pope's exhortation (hence its title), which begins with: «Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive!»

Pope Francis also touched on several other topics in his apostolic exhortation Christus Vivit, which is available online. But in summary, the three main points he asks us to reflect on are that: "God is Love, Christ saves and He lives!" It is up to young people to live and make these beautiful words come alive, each in their own unique way!





Recent News

May 27, 2020 — On Wednesday, 22 April 2020, Erik Oland, Provincial of the Jesuits of Canada, received notice that an outbreak of COVID-19 had been declared at our infirmary in Pickering, Ontario. By Monday, 27 April, five Jesuits had arrived to provide personal care and custodial support.

May 25, 2020 — What was Fr. Nicolás' impact on Canadian Jesuits and the Jesuit Province of Canada? What contributions did he offer to Jesuits around the world? We present here the testimonies of four Jesuits from Canada and an international one.

May 25, 2020 – In two of the more memorable and elegantly simple ceremonies in recent history, Terrence Prendergast, SJ, Archbishop of Ottawa-Cornwall, ordained 5 deacons and Kevin Kelly, SJ (CAN), to the priesthood.

Father Mike Murray died on 18 May, 2020 at the Ajax Pickering Hospital. He was in his 83rd year and had been a Jesuit for 63 years. He served as the first director of Anishinabe Spiritual Centre. In 2010, was appointed as President of Loyola High School in Montreal.

Father Charlie Sitter died peacefully on May 9 at René Goupil House in Pickering, ON. He was in his 94th years and was a Jesuit for 75 years. He had a passion for books and art and thus, he would serve his various communities as house librarian and artistic decorator.

FX Johnson died on 3 May at René Goupil House, Pickering. He was 93 years old and in his 68th year as a Jesuit. In 1969, he began his long career as a parish priest, hospital chaplain, and pastoral worker and spent a lot of his Jesuit life on the move from one pastoral assignment to another.

Fr. Norm Dodge died peacefully in the Lord, surrounded by fellow Jesuits, on May 2 at Rene Goupil House, Pickering. He was 92 years old and was a Jesuit for 67 years. He was well suited to pastoral care ministry, always with a cheerful disposition, patient and a good listener.

view all news

Search news

Publications

CJI Mission News

CJI Mission News (Winter 2020)

Canadian Jesuits



Centre de spiritualité Manrèse

Prenant appui sur l’importance qu’Ignace accordait à son expérience personnelle de ...